Downton Creek and Mt. Rohr: A Stormy Labor Day Weekend

The first section was colourful

On the long Labour Day Weekend we set out for a three day trip to Downton Creek, about 4 hours away, on the Duffy Lake Road. The plan was to hike up to the alpine, make a base camp with our friends Yaron and Michelle and their kids (they were driving up later that day), and scramble and explore some of the nearby peaks. One of the draws of this area is the easy access to the alpine – a 2WD car can make it up to 1800m, and from there an hour of hiking gets you to the alpine. Anyway, we found the turnoff for the logging road easily and drove up the 14km to the trail head. Our car overheated twice (an ongoing problem) so we had to stop and wait for it to cool, and then there was one difficult section where the road bed was half washed away.

The whole family

We hiked up through pink flowers into a sparse forest and up to Holly Lake. Since the trail petered out beyond the lake, we realized that our friends would have slim chances of finding us. Then it started snowing. We hiked back down to an indistinct fork in the trail, had lunch, and I hiked down to look for our friends, who were not too far down. We made it up to the small lake we had planned to camp by, and it was still snowing on and off, cold and a wind had picked up. It felt like winter, and all we could think of was: “we’re not ready for winter yet”. Besides, we had brought our summer sleeping bags, so we were in for a cold night.

The next day in the morning it was snowing on and off again, with some sun showing in between. It seemed that just when the sun had managed to melt the snow, it started snowing again. The dusting of snow sure increased the beauty of the dark peaks in the area, adding much needed contrast. The Finzis decided to head down, understandably, since the weather wasn’t looking great. We scrambled up the hill behind camp, Mt. Statimcets (Peak ‘8700). It got foggy on the way up, but we kept going, and on the summit it was still windy and snowing.

Faulty Tower (left) and Linus (right)

We had a snack and waited a bit, and just when we had decided to start moving again, the clouds cleared and we got some nice views. We scrambled up to the other peak of Statimcets, and by the time we got to the top the wind was howling and it was snowing again. Headed back down, this time the quick way – from the col straight down scree and soft sand to the tents. We decided we’d prefer to hike out and try our luck elsewhere rather than spending more time in the tent. One problem was that I had carried these two large mangoes up and it seemed ridiculous to carry them back down, so we had to eat them even though they were cold and uninviting (but tasty). The hike down to the car was fast, and we stopped at the highway to try and decide what to do.

Jump!

On the summit of Mt. Rohr

On the summit of Mt. Rohr

We settled on Mt. Rohr, a scramble located about an hour’s drive away. We drove to the trail head and slept in the car, right there. While we were cooking dinner two guys showed up in a jeep and said they were hiking up that night (why would they do that, anyway?) to the Marriot Basin. The next day we set out up the boggy trail, and made a stop at the picturesque Rohr Lake with views of Mt. Rohr behind. Beyond the lake we were out in the alpine, so no trail, and a nice route through meadows and scree slopes, a small lake and finally the peak. There were great views of Joffre and Matier across the valley, Marriot Basin, two lovely glacial lakes right below the peak, and of course plenty of neat peaks that we couldn’t name. We had seen just two people on the way, and they hadn’t made it up to the peak. Could it be that on a long weekend with great weather, a peak like this would be ascended by just two people? On the way back we stopped to snack on plump huckleberry, yum.

More photos

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